Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stock Your Freezer: Five Ways to Prepare Ground Meat for the Freezer

A few weeks ago, my favorite local grocery store had an amazing deal on ground turkey -- $1.66 a pound! I had some wiggle room in my grocery budget, so I bought three 3-pound packages. Nine pounds is a lot of ground meat, but I had a plan.

 Five Ways To Prepare Ground Meat for the Freezer:

  1. Plain meat, pre-cooked or raw
    Having pre-cooked ground meat in one-pound portions is such a time-saver on busy nights! I usually use it to make tacos, sloppy joes, chili, Stuffed Pepper Soup, or Lasagna Casserole. I love how much flexibility I have when I freeze meat this way! Some argue that freezing cooked meat can affect the taste and texture. Since I add liquid and seasonings to the meat whenever I use it, I don't find that there is a noticeable difference between cooked and raw. In the end, I chose to pre-cook it this time because it saves time, is extremely convenient, and takes up less space than raw in our full-to-the-top freezer.
  2. Meatballs
    I recently found my new favorite meatball recipe while watching Lidia's Italy. I love that I can sneak some extra veggies into Kiddo's diet. On a busy day, I'll dump frozen or partly thawed meatballs into the crock pot with a jar of sauce and heat on low for a few hours until we're ready to eat. 

    The open-faced meatball sandwich wasn't pretty, but it was delicious!
  3. Casseroles
    While there are many recipes out there, here are two of our go-to casseroles:
    Lasagna Casserole
    This is a favorite in our house! It's so easy to put together that I even let my two-year-old help assemble one (when I was particularly patient and ambitious). I always make at least two so I can have one in the freezer. Lasagna Casserole freezes really well and feeds a crowd.

    Cheesy Enchilada Bake
    Another super-easy recipe involving just five (yes, 5) ingredients, AND it can be made gluten-free with corn tortillas. I've always made this recipe with chicken, but the original recipe calls for ground meat. Maybe I'll give it a try this winter with my stash.
  4. Meatloaf 
    Just use your favorite recipe. Meatloaves freeze well both baked and un-baked. Just freeze for a few hours, remove from the pan, and then wrap in plastic wrap and a freezer bag or in a freezer-safe container. You can even bake them in muffin tins for individual portions!
  5. Soups
    Crock Pot Stuffed Pepper Soup
    , Chili, and Hamburger Vegetable Soup all freeze well. Since most soup recipes make a large batch, we often will put half in a zippered freezer bag and freeze it for later. When we take it out of the freezer, I allow the soup to defrost in the refrigerator overnight. At supper time, I'll dump the soup in a pan to reheat, stirring regularly so the bottom doesn't burn.
    Stuffed Pepper Soup
So what did I do with my nine pounds of ground meat? I used 4.5 pounds of turkey and 1.5 pounds of ground venison to make meatballs. With those 6 pounds of meat, I was able to freeze three quart bags with 32 meatballs each (conservatively 2 meals for our family of three), with about a dozen left over. I browned the other 4.5 pounds of turkey and froze them in quart bags -- three bags with 1 lb each, and two with 0.75 lbs.
Depending on how we use the browned meat, I will be able to easily stretch the nine pounds of ground turkey I purchased to serve at least a dozen meals for our family of three -- probably even more!

How do you use ground meat? Any more recipes to add to my list?

I hope you stick around for more of our "Stock Your Freezer" series!

Photo Source


  1. I never do enough prep ahead. This is a good idea to get meals part way started. I'm going to brown and season and have some fun!

    1. Somehow I missed getting back to you earlier, Cindy. Sorry about that! Did you give it a try?


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